Cox Center Research Team Suggests Ways to Assess Journalism Education's Impact

Despite the variation in types of journalism education around the world, very little research has been done to compare the impact of the different program approaches, Dr. Lee B. Becker from the University of Georgia told journalism educators participating in the first World Journalism Education Congress in Singapore in late June.

Dr. Becker suggested that one way to compare programs is in terms of the differential effects on the attitudes the students have toward the rights of journalists. He then illustrated this tactic by a study he and Dr. Tudor Vlad conducted of journalism education in the United States.

Dr. Becker was one of about 400 journalism educators and journalists attending the Singapore conference, held from June 25-28 at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel in Singapore. The meeting was held in conjunction with the 16th annual meeting of the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC).

The research by Drs. Becker and Vlad showed that journalism students in the United States held more supportive attitudes toward media rights than does the general population, indicating an effect of journalism education.

The research also showed that students in programs preparing them for careers as journalists were more supportive of media rights than students in other specialities, such as adverting and public relations. Women were found to be less supportive of media rights than men.
The research on journalism education impact is based on data from the Annual Surveys of Journalism & Mass Communication, conducted in the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Dr. Becker is director of the Cox Center, and Dr. Vlad is assistant director.

The presentation of the findings by the two Georgia researchers was in a research session on June 26 on Journalism Ethics and Press Freedom. Four other researchers or research teams also presented in the session.

In another session at the Congress, Prof. Michael Cobden from University of King’s College, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, gave an overview of a report released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on model curricula in journalism education. Dr. Vlad developed a syllabus on Media and Society for the project.

UNESCO released a report on the project at the conference.

The program for the Congress covered a variety of topics, including best practices in teaching journalism and blogging and the journalism.A session by the Global Forum for Media Development was designed to help journalists from Asia organize a regional meeting on media assistance. Dr. Becker participated in that session.